The share of Americans who say they are likely to get the first generation of a potential coronavirus vaccine as soon as it is available is dropping as prominent Democrats suggest it may not be effective, a STAT/Harris poll revealed this week.
Citing the poll, the health-oriented news outlet STAT reported Monday:
Overall, 58% of the U.S. public said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine was available when asked earlier this month, down considerably from 69% who said the same thing in mid-August. That change suggests growing concern that the regulatory approval process for a Covid-19 [coronavirus disease] vaccine has been politicized by the Trump administration in the run-up to the presidential election.
Prominent Democrats have cast doubt on the vaccine’s effectiveness.
In early August, then-presumptive Democrat presidential nominee Joe Biden suggested that the Trump administration’s effort to develop a vaccine in record time — Operation Warp Speed — may not yield a safe and effective product the public can trust.
“People don’t believe that he is telling the truth [about the safety of the vaccine candidates],” Biden asserted, referring to President Trump. “Therefore, they’re not at all certain they’re going to take the vaccine.”
“It’s not likely to go through all the tests and the trials that are needed to be done,” he added, referring to the potential vaccine.
Earlier this month, his vice presidential pick, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA), also threw shade at the vaccine, saying she “would not” trust a vaccine based solely on Trump’s word.
On Monday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) told ABC’s Good Morning America that U.S. residents should be “very skeptical” when it comes to taking a vaccine approved by Trump’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Cuomo added that he is not “confident” in a potential “new” vaccine developed by the Trump administration, which includes the Democrat-favored Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. During the interview, Cuomo promoted Fauci.
There are no immunizations against any coronaviruses in humans at the moment. Nevertheless, several Trump administration officials, including Fauci, have said they are “cautiously optimistic” the FDA will approve a private company’s vaccine, or several, by late this year or early 2021. Officials have said the vaccine would first go out to health officials, essential workers, and the most vulnerable before it is widely available.
Adding more doubt, California Gov. Newsom (D) announced the creation of a state health expert workgroup that will “independently review” any COVID-19 vaccines approved by the FDA to ensure they are safe.
Without mentioning the doubts raised by Democrats, STAT blamed “the widespread uncertainty about the safety and effectiveness of any vaccine” on Trump saying one would soon be available, possibly by the November 3 election.
The share of U.S. residents who are willing to get a vaccine as soon as it is available has dropped by more than ten percent in about a month and a half — from mid-August to early October, the STAT/Harris poll found.
STAT noted that the decline was “more pronounced” among black respondents than white respondents, something the news outlet blamed on Trump.
Drill down further, and the new data show a striking disparity by race. The poll found that 59% of white Americans indicated they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine is ready, a decline from 70% in mid-August. Only 43% of Black individuals said they would pursue a vaccine as soon as it was available, a sharp drop from 65% in mid-August.
The pandemic has exacerbated concerns about the extent to which the African-American community trusts the U.S. health care system, especially since President Trump has often disparaged minorities.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also reported that the pandemic has taken a disproportionate toll on minorities.
The poll asked Americans how the news that Trump had COVID-19 might impact their actions.
[The poll found] about 40% of Americans said they are somewhat or much more likely to get the coronavirus vaccine once it is available. That response was similar among Republicans and Democrats, with 41% and 44%, respectively expressing this view. At the same time, 41% reported their view on a vaccine hadn’t changed even though Trump was infected. Another 19% said they were somewhat or much less likely to pursue an available vaccine.
STAT-Harris surveyed 2,050 people online from October 7 to 10.